the wines of eastern europe

The first-ever holistic book on the wines of Eastern Europe

A new wine book has been published, which will soon be the favourite of many wine travellers, because it does not only lists wine regions and grape varieties, but tells you the rich history of the region, guides you through the countries with plenty of good advice – all in an entertaining way. The book has a clear, easy to follow structure, handy to use as a reference book.

Cultural anthropologist, vineyardist and wine studies professor John Hudelson tells the deep and rich history of wine in Eastern Europe and relates the rare vinous treasures that can be had if one knows where to look. This book presents the first-ever holistic picture of Eastern Europe, how wine has shaped its history and where this new and exciting age of winemaking is headed.

More than 300 grape varieties are introduced in the book from 20 countries, on 206 pages – for only 35 USD (20 USD for Kindle).

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john hudelson
John Hudelson, the author

From fun facts to details

Right at the beginning of the book it turns out that we don’t have to be afraid, this book is not a boring encyclopedia with endless lists of data. Some fun facts raise our interest immediately, for example: What river has the greatest number of vineyards and wine appellations along its banks? The Danube touches ten winemaking countries (eight in Eastern Europe), a dozen major wine regions, and scores of smaller appellations.”

Hungary is presented on 17 pages, and as a former magazine editor, I was pleased to see the careful spelling of our difficult words (for example Villány vineyard Szársomlyó is spelt spotlessly). Also it is great to read about smaller family wineries, like Krisztina Csetvei in Mór or Judit Bodó in Tokaj. Certainly some larger estates are also presented, Garamvári Vineyard on the south shore of Lake Balaton is one of them – especially because Péter Baranyai winemaker was a great host and guide to the author.

That does not keep the wine maker Péter Baranyai of Garamvári from producing excellent Pinot Noir and Merlot on their 80 hectares in the subregion of Balatonelle. With the traditional Furmint and Irsai Olivér, Garamvári makes méthode traditionelle sparkling wines that often stay on the lees (en tirage) for 3–5 years. Baranyai made wine in Napa Valley for 6 years before coming home to Balatonelle.” Péter Baranyai was a good choice as a host, since he received the title “The Most Successful Winemaker of the Year” for the amount of medals gained at the latest VinAgora competition.

More about Garamvári Vineyard and Winery

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Péter Baranyai, chief winemaker of Garamvári Vineyard

From the other side of the iron curtain

“If you grew up in America during the Cold War, as I did, the term “Eastern Europe” may evoke a certain set of feelings: cold, hard, scary.” The American scholar overcome those feelings and discovered the wonders of Eastern Europe, and with this book hopefully he will raise the appetite of many of his fellows.

Always looking for stories, he wrote about Villány, the southernmost region of Hungary: “There are about thirty wineries in the region. A local hero, Zsigmond Teleki (1854–1910) was a famous hybridizer of rootstocks (5 BB Teleki) that brought the wine world into post-phylloxera high production. His cellars and winery, the largest in the region, are now owned by Csányi Winery.”

Indeed, at the international viticulturist conference in Barcelona in 1930, it was officially acknowledged that the vineyards of Europe had been reconstructed with the help of the experimental varieties by Zsigmond Teleki. In the very same year his followers erected a statue to commemorate the great viticulturist.

If you want to walk in his path, visit Csányi Winery, which owns the longest underground labyrinth in the region – and follow all the tips in John Hudelson to enjoy an unforgettable journey in the ancient, yet in many aspects new winemaking countries of Eastern Europe.

More about Csányi Winery

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The main estate building of Csányi Winery, Villány